1244 and all that... a potted history of Alicante
Long before Alicante’s El Altet airport was opened as a gateway for millions of foreign invaders, the area was a magnet for traders and conquerors. All the usual suspects of the ancient lands paid visits to the area for one reason or another – Greeks, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and finally the Romans - and left their mark on Alicante BC.
Give or take 700 years later when Roman influence was wearing a bit thin, it was no surprise when local tourist chiefs more or less extended an outstretched palm to the invading Moors. Bringing with them medical knowledge, advanced irrigation systems, books, education and most importantly oranges, palms and rice.
By 1244 the city had turned its back on Mecca and had become part of Catholic Castilian territory in the Treaty of Almizra. A long period of uncertainty and war followed as the city became embroiled in domestic and international disputes.
Key dates include the granting of City status in 1490 by King Ferdinand II, the seven-day bombardment of the city by the French navy in 1691, and during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) the British destroyed the castle of Santa Barbara.
However it wasn’t all death, destruction and bombardments, as Alicante became more important politically and economically. The port grew as trade increased, the population doubled in less than 100 years and during the Peninsular War, Alicante became the capital of the Kingdom of Valencia when Valencia itself was occupied by the French.
In more modern times the City thrived because of its prime position for trade with the Americas and the coming of the railway in the 19th Century. The city exploded beyond its old walled boundaries and many of the new districts were built in this time of expansion.
The vast history of the City is still reflected in the monuments, buildings, street layouts and ancient remains which are still being uncovered today. More importantly, Alicante’s cosmopolitan background still lives and breathes in the people of the city for whom every day is a celebration of life on the Costa Blanca.
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